With the increasing economic integration of the ASEAN countries, interesting job opportunities for international specialists and executives are also increasingly emerging in Southeast Asia. Bangkok as the economic center of Thailand forms the epicenter of this development. The cost of living is still moderate, and it should not be overlooked that the city is the ideal starting point for trips to the entire region. For me, a semester abroad in Bangkok offered the ideal combination of a high academic level, manageable costs, professional perspective and an unknown culture and mentality.
2. Country and people
The basic knowledge about Thailand can be read in any good travel guide, so I will only go into a few special features here. Thailand is currently ruled by a military government that took power in May 2014. There are currently no plans for democratic elections in the near future. As a democracy-loving European one has to come to terms with this situation. The security situation in Thailand is good, however, and if you behave in a friendly manner, you will not have any problems.
However, Thailand continues to struggle with police corruption. It is advisable to treat officials in uniform with a healthy level of skepticism and, if possible, to avoid contact.
Thai students show a great interest in getting in contact with international students in order to make acquaintances and friendships. It is a fantastic experience to let the locals show you around the city and get a completely new perspective.
Thailand is bursting with beautiful nature. Beaches, islands and temples can be visited easily and cheaply, which is particularly advantageous when Bangkok is getting too hectic. A deeper insight into the subtleties of the Thai mentality and view of life is only gained after a while, and everyone who gets involved really arrives in Bangkok.
The Mahidol University is next to Chulalongkorn University, the most prestigious university in Thailand. The College of Management is one of the best business schools in Asia.
The courses are only available to master’s students. The CMMU has its own campus near the Victory Monument BTS station, centrally located in Bangkok. Since the CMMU is the only college in the building, there is no real campus feeling.
The application is straightforward via MicroEDU. You should only check in good time whether you meet the formal requirements, such as the required language test.
The contact with the university administration is extremely professional and friendly, and the university employees provide information at any time by email or telephone. Should major problems arise, there are German-speaking professors whom you can turn to.
Only the online system for course selection looks a bit chaotic at first glance.
As a rule, international students take 4 courses, each with 3 hours of lectures per week. Overall, the level of the lectures was a little below that at my German university. But I find it difficult to make a general assessment here, as every lecturer sets different priorities.
There is no class with more than 35 participants, which creates a school atmosphere. In every course assignments, possibly term papers, presentations, midterm exams and group work have to be mastered during the semester. Here, too, quantity takes precedence over quality. Many Thai students are still employed in addition to the university and therefore have little time for group work. You therefore have to invest a little more time yourself to achieve outstanding results. Here, too, it makes sense to remain calm and accept differences in work mentality.
One course that I particularly liked was Business Creativity with Prof. Dr. Rice. The XIDEA tool he developed for structured innovations is enjoying increasing popularity among international companies and his lecture offers exclusive insights into the topic. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and controls are very strict. The lectures are given by Thai and international professors.
4. Tips and tricks
- It is advisable to carry out the search for an apartment on site and simply contact appealing “condos” (apartment buildings) personally.
- The rental price can often be traded down by 10-20%.
- It is best to live near the university to avoid daily commuting through traffic jams.
- Bangkok has a sprawling nightlife, but bars and clubs close at 2 a. m. Locals often still know bars where you can party a little longer.
- Establish a flat share and move into the same condo. One of the best experiences of my semester abroad was living in a shared apartment and the fact that I lived in the same building with many other international students.
- Thailand cannot be understood by our cultural standards of good and bad. It’s just different. But if you look at the semester abroad in a relaxed manner and accept the deviations from our western way of life, it becomes a terrific experience.
- Alcoholic drinks are more expensive than in Germany, but cigarettes are much cheaper.
- The Thai cuisine is diverse and you should try as many different dishes as possible. If you do get your stomach upset, there is no prescription-free remedy at the pharmacy.
- If the timetable is cleverly planned, it is possible to have several days of the week without lectures.
- At the beginning of the semester, selected courses can still be exchanged. The best thing to do is to ask Thai students about the content and requirements of the courses and then make a decision.